Study Guide

You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down Truth

By Alice Walker

Truth

Like most people, the characters in You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down just can't handle the truth. The young girl knows that she's being raped, but she clings to Bubba's warped version of events because it sounds nicer. Walker's beautiful and talented poet likes to think of taking lovers as having "adventures"—but they're really adventures in adultery.

Truth is a slippery critter, of course. Walker herself finds this out when she's confronted with Luna's rape and can't figure out how to respond. Traynor can't find the true meaning of the music that's made him famous—and he doesn't know himself well enough to write about his own life.

It's hard to get down to a true version of yourself or your life, free from outside influence or interpretation. And for characters like Annie, the porn-bound husband and wife, and Irene, facing the truth about the person you've become is sometimes downright painful. Whatever their situation, the question is the same: how do these characters face reality and move on?

Questions About Truth

  1. Some of Walker's characters have serious clashes with reality. What happens to them when they have to confront situations that can no longer be ignored or redefined in a more appetizing way?
  2. In what ways is storytelling a form of truth? In what ways is it deception? Find examples in Walker's stories to support your thoughts.
  3. How is self-awareness connected to the characters' quests for or denials of truth?
  4. Why does Walker put Luna and Freddie Pye into a conversation with each other about the rape when that probably never happened?

Chew on This

Irene is surprised by Anastasia's accusation that she's intolerant at the end of "Source" because she doesn't think her friend is capable of suffering in the same way that she has.

The husband in Walker's "Coming Apart: By Way of Introduction to Lorde, Teish and Gardner" only partially succeeds in breaking free from the influence of porn because his new level of awareness shows a pretty ugly picture of himself.

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